Democrats and Republicans are split on Trump's decision to play down COVID-19

Jamie BallardData Journalist
September 15, 2020, 6:30 PM UTC

The Washington Post recently published an audio recording from an interview between writer Bob Woodward and President Donald Trump, where Trump said he knew the coronavirus was “more deadly than strenuous flus” in early February, while telling Americans publicly that it was no worse than a seasonal flu. He said “I wanted to always play it down.” 

Do Americans believe that was the right call?  
 
Results from a YouGov poll of more than 5,600 US adults finds that 58 percent of Americans believe that Trump made the wrong decision by not disclosing the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic to the American public.  

There are some partisan splits on this. A large majority (84%) of Democrats say Trump made the wrong decision, while about one in five (22%) Republicans agree. Most Republicans (57%) say that Trump made the right decision.  

Questions have also been raised about whether Woodward should have been quicker to release the info about the deadliness of COVID-19 and the president’s attempts to play it down. 

"There is no ethical or moral defense of Woodward's decision to not publish these tapes as soon as they were made," John Stanton, the former Washington bureau chief for BuzzFeed, tweeted.  

Many Americans agree. Four in 10 US adults say it was unethical for Woodward to wait several months to publish the recording. About one in five (17%) believe it was ethical for him to do so, and 18 percent say it was neither ethical nor unethical. A quarter (25%) are unsure about the ethics of Woodward’s choice.  

In an interview with the Associated Press, Woodward said that he needed time to determine if Trump’s statements about COVID-19 were accurate.  

“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” he said.  

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Methodology: The survey is based on the interviews of 5,611 US adults aged 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online September 10-11, 2020 and results are weighted to be nationally representative.    

Image: Getty